Napoli vs Spezia 0-1: Juan Jesus Own Goal Dooms Azzurri

Spezia stunned Napoli on Wednesday night, victorious thanks to an own goal in the first half.

The match was tightly contested from the start, as Spezia refused to park the bus against the title contenders. Both sides created quality chances, but finishing from Napoli was especially poor. The Neapolitans were in disappointing form and need Victor Osimhen back from injury.

Decimated by injuries and absences, Napoli’s 4-2-3-1 differed from their usual starting eleven. Longtime depth piece Jesus started on the backline in place of Kalidou Koulibaly, while Dries Mertens and Matteo Politano lined up as forwards.

Spezia also lacked key players. Daniele Verde and Jacopo Sala missed the match, allowing Jakub Kiwior to slot into a midfield position. At forward, Thiago Motta replaced M’Bala Nzola with the creative Kevin Agudelo after a run of good form. His side played in a 3-5-2, desperately needing a result to move three points clear of the relegation zone.

Despite being significant underdogs, Spezia began the match well, not backing down against the Azzurri. With a three-man defense, they drove play down the wings, looking to whip in crosses. Their young captain Giulio Maggiore received a yellow card early in the match, restricting his ability to make hard challenges in the future.

Politano almost broke the deadlock on a left-footed strike. The winger cut inside with pace and blew by his defender, finding an open look on net. However, his shot went just wide, and the score remained level.

Early on, Mertens pulled the strings for Napoli. He frequently dropped into the midfield and held up play, looking to switch the ball into space. The Belgian created a chance for his side in the 35th minute, but the strike again flew wide of the goal.

Later, Spezia stunned the hosts, taking the lead on a long-range free kick. Simone Bastoni swung in the ball, and Jesus headed it directly into his net for an own goal.

After a run of possession, Napoli seemed to win a penalty when Anguissa was shoved from behind in the box. However, the well-positioned referee adamantly denied their claims, and the Azzurri went into the break down 0-1.

Despite Mertens’ play, Luciano Spalletti removed the striker in favor of Andrea Petagna at halftime. The 26-year-old offered more pace and was a greater threat to penetrate Spezia’s backline.

Napoli’s first chance of the second half came on a long free kick similar to Spezia’s. Hirving Lozano found himself unmarked at the back-post, but he sent his volley over the crossbar from seven yards out.

Maggiore’s creativity almost sparked a second goal for the visitors. He beat his defender on the end line and played a back-pass into the box, but centre-back Kelvin Amian scuffed the first-time shot.

Before 15 minutes had passed in the second half, Napoli had two goals disallowed. The first was a strike by Lozano called back for offsides, and the second was header discounted due to a shove on a Spezia player. Both calls appeared to be correct and caused little controversy.

Spezia somehow survived a late attacking frenzy by Napoli. The hosts dominated possession and created numerous chances, but they were unable to put the ball in the net, ultimately losing their final match before the winter break.